Benchmark Wineries

Cooper Vineyards

Dick Cooper’s family arrived in the Sierra Foothills in 1919. Cooper Vineyards reflects an understanding of the land that spans four generations. The winery itself was started in 2004 and an immediate focus was on the Barbera grape variety. Today, Dick Cooper is widely considered the “Grandfather of Barbera” in Amador. 


Jeff Runquist Wines

After graduating from UC Davis, Runquist began working in the cellar at Montevina in Amador’s Shenandoah Valley, quickly rising to the role of winemaker. He went on to work at the Napa Valley Cooperative before accepting the winemaker position at J. Lohr. In 1996, he returned to Amador to make his own wine. 


Montevina

Montevina was the first winery in Amador to resume production after Prohibition. The winery was started in 1970, with the first release coming three years later. Montevina remains one of the larger wineries in Amador, with 162 hectares (400 acres) of vineyards, and a wide range of wines, all from more traditional (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon) grape varieties.  


Prospect Cellars

Ronn & Jamie Lubenko founded Prospect Cellars as a nod to Ronn’s family history in the area. Ronn’s great-great grandparents came to Amador in the 1860s, and it was his great-great grandmother who planted the Grandpere Vineyard, although that vineyard is no longer in the family. Prospect Cellars inhabits the old post office on Main Street and is equal parts visitor center, tasting room and local hangout.


Scott Harvey Winery

Scott Harvey is credited with helping put Amador and its wines on the map in the 1970s. Born and raised near the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it was no leap when, after working at Montevina Winery, Scott travelled to Germany to work at a winery in different mountains. When he returned he was ready to make wine and head projects that would showcase the glory of Amador county. 


Shake Ridge Vineyards

The Kraemer family founded Shake Ridge Vineyards in 2003, with a focus of keeping it small and sustainable. The estate has since grown to 18 hectares (46 acres). Farming is organic and intervention is minimal, outside of introducing natural predators to get rid of pests. The ranch is considered a top spot for grapes in Amador.


Sutter Home

Sutter Home is one of the few pre-Prohibition wineries remaining in Amador. Founded in 1890, it sat dormant during Prohibition until the Trinchero family revived the winery in 1948. In 1972 Bob Trinchero experimented with “saignée” with Zinfandel, making “White Zinfandel” from free-run juice, which was white in color and fermented to dryness. In 1974 the White Zinfandel suffered a stuck fermentation, which left a little residual sugar and added some pink color to the wine. Everyone went wild for it, and a new icon was born. 


Domaine de la Terre Rouge and Easton Wines

Founded in the late 1980s by husband-and-wife team Bill Easton and Jane O’Riordan, Domaine de la Terre Rouges was initially focused on Grenache and other Rhône varieties--Syrah, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne--which shine in the granitic soils of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Farming is sustainable and mostly organic. Solar paneling provides 90% of energy to the winery. Easton is the name of the range for the property’s non-Rhône varieties, such as Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.   


Turley Wine Cellars

Turley was founded in 1993 by Larry Turley. Today, Turley produces over 50 wines from 50 vineyards throughout California. Larry Turley was always attracted to old vineyards, so it is no surprise he would take an interest in Amador County. Turley’s Amador tasting room is based in Plymouth, near the Grandpere Vineyard.